Edina is looking to build a water treatment plant at Southdale Center that would improve the city's water taste and clarity.

The 10,000-square-foot facility would go up just north of the city's water tower on the northeast corner of France Avenue S. and W. 69th Street. The planning commission signed off on the plans last week; the City Council is expected to hold a public hearing and final vote at its meeting Wednesday.

If approved, the city would begin the bidding process for the estimated $10.5 million plant in April.

City staff and planning commissioners praised the plant's design, which includes an educational component for residents to learn how local water is treated.

"Usually these look like a dud and an eyesore," Commissioner Jimmy Bennett said at last week's meeting. "This is pretty amazing."

A screen on the north side of the building would display a video explaining how the plant operates. The building would also have a patio, ivy-covered walls and greenery on the roof.

"We ... don't want it to look like a bleak bunker," said Ross Bintner, engineering services manager for the city. "We want to make sure that when you're driving by ... it's going to evoke the feeling of water."

The City Council looked at other locations for the plant last year, including near Fred Richards and Adams Hill parks, all of which posed higher construction costs. The Southdale location, now occupied by a handful of parking spaces, was thought to be the cheapest option, said Engineering Director Chad Millner.

It would be the fifth treatment plant in the city and would oxidize, filter and disinfect water from local wells, processes to reduce iron and manganese. The clean water would then be pumped to the adjacent tower.

In addition to approving the design plans, the council would also have to OK a variance reducing building setbacks from France Avenue from 35 to 19 feet.

Several other development projects are coming to Southdale Center, including a Shake Shack restaurant and a Restoration Hardware furniture store.

Commissioner John Hamilton said having the plant at a busy intersection is a great way for Edina's residents to learn how the city's utilities function.

"It couldn't be a better site than front and center, unless it happened to be at 50th and France," he quipped.

Miguel Otárola • 612-673-4753